It's been said that time is the only thing we are truly limited by, and while it is definitely true that we can leverage our time, it is also true that we all get exactly the same amount of time in a day, no matter your age, race, financial status, political affiliation or any of the million other categories we shove ourselves into.
And yet time can be subjective too. The old saying, “time flies when you are having fun,” and the alternative idea that when you are bored or doing something you don't enjoy then it seems to last forever. If you are truly focused on something, time ceases to exist, each moment seeming to stretch and stretch and though it feels like you just started, you realize hours have passed.
I am pretty broad in my interests. I find so many things intriguing, that I can enjoy a great many things. This is definitely a two edged sword. On the one hand, I can be happy doing a vast many things. On the other hand, I will never fully explore all the things I find interesting.
Time management is something I don't do particularly well. I have a kind of strange relationship with time. I don't do time well. In my daily life, time has very little meaning. I am a stay at home mom, so I don't have as many time constraints as some might. But I do have things that happen on a schedule. In fact, I tend to schedule more, everyday, than my husband (which drives us both crazy on his days off when we have things to do). Because I tend to loose track of time easily, I find that my days flow better when I lay out the things that happen at specific times alongside the things that I need to get done that day.
So in the morning, I will plan my day with markers: I wake, stretch and meditate, then eat breakfast and drink my coffee. Lunch and dinner happen at specific times. My son comes home from school (or I pick him up on the day he stays after), my husband wakes up (when he is on night shift) or comes home from work (when he is on days). Right now I am helping out my in-laws, so I drive over to their place to take out the dogs. If I have things (like grocery shopping) that have to be done, I figure out when I want to do those as well.
My husband prefers to just do things as he thinks of them. But that doesn't work for me. If I don't set times to do things, I will get caught up in whatever I am doing and time will slip by me and when I look up at the clock, it will be way past when I thought and I will then end up stressed and rushing trying to get everything done in time (and often this is when things don't get done). For me, the planning makes my life easier and at the end of the day when I look back, I feel better about my day. I have also noticed that I often actually get more done when I have a schedule.
The key to organizing my time is prioritizing. This extends to all aspects of my life, not just household and family chores. A couple years ago, my husband got me a Kindle for Christmas (he is Atheist, so we do Christmas at home). I am an absolute book addict, so I was ecstatic! And I quickly found the millions of books that you can get for free. I think I downloaded a couple hundred in the first week. Anything and everything that sounded interesting. And my interest can be peaked not only by things that I find personally interesting, but also by things that might effect my life (such as books written by fundamentalists of other religions, either explaining their world view, or extolling the dangers of my own path).
I quickly ended up with way more books that I could possibly read, even if I was reading every waking moment of my days. I was downloading 5-10 books every day, and rarely reading even one a day. Worse, I felt compelled to actually read them all, even when it was obvious in the first couple of pages that they were kind of horrible. This is something I have always struggled with in books: I don't want to let go of them once I get them. If they are awful, I will still hoard them because I might want to read them one day (or I maintain hope that they will get better later on in the book).
I was talking with my dad one day, about kindle books, and the many things I was interested in reading about. And his response to me was more or less that there may be all these things that peak my interest, but just because it is interesting doesn't mean it's actually worth my time to read it.
At first I was kind of resentful about this. I mean, if I was interested in it, shouldn't I be able to pursue it? But the more I thought about it, the more I started to see it in a different light. There is only so much time, and so if I have an hour of free time, what should I spend it on. There are plenty of things that I find interesting or enjoyable, tons of things I could easily spend an hour on. But if I just pick a random interest out of a hat, I might never have time for the things that are deeply important to me.
It is a winnowing process for me. And it is hard. I don't want to pass things by, and so much is fascinating. I don't want to admit that the book I was so looking forward to reading ends up not being what I thought it would be (this happens a lot to me...the summary sounds incredible, and I end up being disappointed because it doesn't live up to the picture in my head...but I so want the picture in my head I don't want to admit that it isn't going to match up).
But I am learning to let things go. To stop reading books that I don't like. To delete (or sell or give away) books that I found worthless. To really be honest with myself about the likelihood of a re-read. To accept that I will not learn all the skills and abilities that I think would be neat in this lifetime.
And this allows me to turn my focus onto the things that really matter. To do the things that are part of my core being, the essence of who I am. I may still dabble in other things (because sometimes you don't know what something means to you until you try it), but I work really hard on forcing myself to be honest about how important something is to me.